“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” Inspired by the words of Rudyard Kipling, Frankie Rozwadowska, discovers the scents that will transport you to the exotic
If you, like me, are looking out of the window, dreaming of far off lands and exotic places whilst counting down the days ‘til your summer holiday, then this is for you. Okay, so it may not a plane ticket to Bali or a cruise around the Caribbean, but just a sniff of these scents and you’ll be transported to somewhere far, far away…
Smell is our most powerful sense (it’s a whopping 10,000 times more sensitive than the others), and this is because our olfactory process is immediate. Taste and touch, for example, have to travel through the body via neurons in order to reach the brain, whereas smell extends directly to it via our olfactory bulbs. This also means that smell is incredibly powerful in conjuring up memories, as our olfactory bulbs have very direct connections to both our amygdala and hippocampus lobe structures that control emotion and memory. Therefore, the next best thing to actually being on holiday is to smell things that remind you of them, allowing you to create images in your mind of distant beaches or snow-capped mountains. So on that note, here are our top 10 travel inspired fragrances that will take you on one scent-sational journey
Canada – ‘Rogart’ by Molton Brown – £60.00
This woody fresh fragrance effortlessly captures the essence of Nova Scotia’s Cobequid Mountains. Notes of juniper berries, sweet maple and icy angelica sit on a base of fir balsam and gaiac wood, leaving you dreaming of roaring fires in rustic log-cabins, surrounded by snow-topped peaks.
Dominican Republic – ‘Santo Domingo’ by Oscar de la Renta – £105.00
Having lived in this cool, colonial, Caribbean capital, Santo Domingo holds a very special place in my heart – as it does for Oscar de la Renta. He himself said, “Smell is the longest recall of all senses”. So in homage to his birthplace, he perfectly captured the city’s smells – the rich warmth of tobacco and spices, the fresh citrusy top notes, and the touch of patchouli that brings the island’s tropical flowers straight to you.
Brazil – ‘Batucada’ by L’Artisan Parfumeur – £55-£78
Think Brazil and think beating drums, samba tunes and bronzed beauties? Now you can be joining them with a spritz of Batucada. “This perfume is packed with joy and spontaneity, like Brazilians dancing and singing to the rhythm of the music…” says co-creator Elisabeth Maier. It’s refreshing – with a burst of lime, fresh mint and cachaca (aka a Caipirinha – yum). There are notes of ylang ylang and coconut, creating that heady, holiday scent of sun cream on glistening skin. And there’s the added sprinkle of sea salt – beautifully bottling Brazil’s beaches.
Morocco – ‘L’Air Du Desert Marocain’ by Tauer Perfumes – €78.70
Using the highest quality natural oils, Swiss chemist turned perfumer, Andy Tauer, draws his inspiration from distant lands and exotic substances. Musing on memories of a night in Marrakesh, this is his favourite of all his creations – and it’s not hard to see why. With a warm heart of rock rose and a hint of Moroccan jasmine, there’s also a splash of bitter orange and a touch of cumin and coriander, all resting on a lightly spicy base of dry cedar, vetiver and ambergris. It will send you straight to the Sahara in just a sniff.
England – ‘Earl Grey & Cucumber Cologne’ by Jo Malone – £38-£76
If you’re abroad and want a taste of home, this is the next best thing to actually eating a cucumber sandwich washed down with a good old cuppa. A burst of bergamot, distinct to Earl Grey, blends perfectly with the cool succulence of crunchy cucumber and the sweeter base notes of beeswax, vanilla and musk. It’s Blighty in a bottle.
Italy – ‘Fico di Amalfi’ by Acqua di Parma – £52-£74
In a bottle as blue as the Mediterranean itself, this eau de toilette centres around the fig – a fruit found growing in abundance on the Amalfi Coast. It’s therefore no surprise that at the heart of the fragrance lies fig nectar, surrounded by notes of pink pepper, jasmine petals, and crisp citrus fruits. Coming through you’ll smell fig wood, cedar wood, and benzoin – perfectly capturing the fig tree from root to fruit.
The Middle East – ‘Sahara Noir’ by Tom Ford – £100 (on counters in May)
Is there anything this man can’t do? Nope, didn’t think so. Mr Ford has done it again, captured our noses with his latest scent – an ode to the precious desert resin, Frankincense. As he himself says, “Middle Eastern culture has an extraordinary appreciation for the luxurious, emotional and memorable qualities of fragrance; perfume is worn there in a way that feels very familiar to me. Sahara Noir is my interpretation of this heritage.” With notes of cinnamon, rose absolute, cool papyrus and vanilla bean – it’s as though you’re really walking through the souks of the Arabian Peninsula and not around Marks & Spencer’s.
Mauritius – ‘Songes’ by Annick Goutal – £60-£79
Everything about this perfume is romantic, from the beautiful bottle to the story behind it. Camille Goutal wanted to capture the spellbinding scent of frangipani that hung in the air during an exotic garden walk on the island of Mauritius. So taken by the sweet smell, she made it her aim to immortalize the precious memory – creating an exotic bouquet of frangipani, jasmine and gardenia. Add to this the rare essential oils of ylang-ylang and French vanilla, and what do you have? A sumptuous, spell-binding scent.
Thailand – ‘A Shot of Thai Lime Over Mango’ by Jo Loves – £45-95
Jo Malone is, quite frankly, the Queen of Fragrance – and her Jo Loves fragrances deserve their own thrown. Each one of them. She herself says, “Everyday I’m struck by different smells which evoke emotions or memories that inspire me to be creative.” Inspired by her travels and by the art of cocktail making (the crushing, shaking, and stirring of ingredients to create something truly unique) – this scent was created. “Thailand is a very special place for me and a constant source of inspiration. I love the sharp, zesty qualities of Thai Lime and when shot over Mango it creates a very clean, cologne-like scent. Combining a culinary fusion of fresh Mango, Kaffir Lime and Black Pepper with herbaceous Thyme, Mint and Vetiver, this fragrance can be worn night or day.” Make ours a double.
Japan – ‘IKI’ by Florascent Parfumeurs – £39.50
Made from pure, natural, organic essential oils and aromatic waters, IKI is inspired by the beauty and mystery of Japan’s geishas. Like these beautiful traditional performers, the fragrance’s creators treat each scent like a work of art. After carefully distilling and extracting the precious natural materials, they are then matured for several months – allowing scent compositions to properly develop their distinctive character. IKI’s is woody and aromatic – making it perfect for men or for women who like to wear more masculine scents.
Image by the amazing Daeja Fallas – check out his website for more fantastic shots: www.daejafallas.com